What does a gun make you feel?

“I can see as well as you can. I can feel everything you feel. In fact… I feel *exactly* what you feel” – Praetor Shinzon from Star Trek: Nemesis

Almost a year ago, a friend had offered to sell me a firearm for a $150 dollars; however, even at a steal for a great gun, I had felt very uneasy about the moral proposition of owning a lethal weapon. I think we had all heard of a negligent gun owner(s) with the accompanying horror stories of a weapon(s) falling into the hands of a child, the mentally ill or violent criminal(s). The end result had usually meant the death of one or more innocents. In my mind, owning a gun was tantamount to endorsing violence as a way of life. I had struggled over a period of weeks thinking,”What should I do?” Had I feared so much for my safety and freedom in our republic?

So what had driven the desire for this purchase? First, I had thought best to undercut the opposing American progressive and conservative contradictory dogma regarding life and death. Progressives had seemed comfortable in supporting abortion but, unaccepting of execution as a form of corporal punishment. On the right, conservatives had heralded executions yet, squeamish at the thought of aborting a fetus. From my perspective, each choice had required the ability of exercising freewill, specifically, morality on an individual basis. Reflecting on the termination of life at either end of the spectrum, I had concluded both acts diminish the miracle of life. Regardless of theological beliefs, what greater measure of individual judgment was the act of choosing life over death?

After a few weeks, I had decided to purchase the firearm from my friend. The primary reasons for this purchase was not self-preservation but, the possibility of protecting my family, friends and pets. This choice was framed by a few different events. One memory was a stranger canvasing my apartment for anyone being home. After that, a few other events had tempered my perspective including violent break-ins within my apartment complex, and a double homicide ¼ mile from my home. All these experiences had cumulatively cemented my rational for moving forwarding with this decision. In owning a gun, there were no delusions of grandeur. In firing off practice rounds today, I had only thought of an opportunity to protect lives of those I care for. Regardless of your point of view, I had hoped you consider the spirit of this quote, “Is there anything you would not do for your family?” – Kahn from Star Trek Into Darkness

Read more:
Homeland Security Refutes Conspiracies About 1.6 Billion Rounds Of Ammo, Pepper Ball Gun And Riot Gear Purchases (ibtimes.com)

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Devil’s Den Springs @ Williston, Florida

Heading out to Devil’s Den Springs in Williston, Florida, this morning, the day had started with mildly cooler temperatures and slight humidity. Commuting over two hours from Orlando, Florida, we had arrived at our destination. After signing waivers, the staff had rented out pairs of buoyancy control devices, regulators and cylinders. After a walk through and some pictures, we had begun assembling our scuba gear. Switching to a wetsuit, the air had remained crisp but, manageable. While testing my regulator, my cylinder had accidentally lost 500 psi out of 3000. The staff had happily granted my request for a new cylinder at no charge. My friend had described my visceral response as giddy as a “school girl,” because of the phenomenal customer service. After gearing up and completing our pre-dive check, we had embarked to our descent.

Grappling the railing on the left facing wall, each of us had slowly stepped down the shaft toward the underground cavern. After clearing the first half of descent, the stone steps had transitioned to wood. The air temperature had also grown warmer because of the closed environment of the spring. Reaching the base dive platform, we had dawned our mask and fins at the water edge. Double-checking our bcds once more, we had launched ourselves into a familiar mental refrain of “dive, dive, dive!”

Leading the way into the submerged portion of the chamber, I had started releasing air from my b.c.d. Adjusting for the change in pressure, I had grasped my nose a few times blowing a puff of air into my ears. Acclimating to the warm 72 degree spring waters, we had started a lap around the limestone perimeter. Moving down the water column, our underwater flashlights had scanned the surfaces of the cavern walls. The rock formations had seemed as foreign as an alien world. The underwater silence had provided a calming, peaceful accompaniment to the surroundings. Seeing a signal from my friend, he had motioned to small red devil figurine on the edge of a limestone formation. After a quick view, we had proceeded further down in depth.

A unique portion of this adventure had stemmed from a small passthrough and gazing above to the sky. Coming upon a small illuminated passage, I had carefully maneuvered my body through a pair of rocks. Turning my head back, I had saw my friend clearing the same passage with his GroPro and flashlight. After clearing this corner, my eyes had steered to the surface. From 30 feet down, the cavern opening had made the sky appear like a floating ball of blue with white streaks.

Refocusing on our lap around the perimeter, I had signaled my buddy for current air supply. With matching numbers, 1,500 psi, we had continued by the numerous sub surface dive platforms. Moving to the end of our dive, a few groups of additional divers had entered the water. Checking again our psi, I had reached a reading of 1,000. At this threshold, we had started our ascent. At 15 feet, we had sat on one of the submerged wooden dive platforms. Working in 3 minutes for a safety stop, we had surfaced for a hot shower and change of dry clothes.

Capping off the time, money, and effort toward PADI scuba certification, this experience had satisfied my desire for returning to the water with a radiating confidence. In managing my air consumption today, I had floated like a turtle. In pursuing a suggestion for water activities earlier this year, I had pondered my animal totem. The question was which one, a turtle or a cock?

Read More:
Devil’s Den Scuba Resort (www.devilsden.com)

Animal in you (animalinyou.com)

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Before Devil’s Den @ Williston, Florida

Returning early today from a family visit in Jacksonville, Florida, I had completed the 2nd round of preparations for my first real world scuba trip to Devil’s Den in Willston, Florida. After wrapping up Thanksgiving eating today, my friend and I had worked out plan details over email. Since acquiring Padi Open Water certification from Seminole Scuba, I had wanted to get back into the water as soon as possible. Of course, the class had just ended Sunday but, like the gym, the more reps, the more comfortable you get with anything. The trip had started to develop at noon this past Wednesday, with a short list of possible targets. After getting solid feedback from Paul at Seminole Scuba, Devil’s Den was the natural choice. It had offered on-site staff, rental equipment and open every day but, Christmas. Plus with the recent cold snap, the spring waters were surrounded by a cool-looking cavern. Part of the motivation for this dive, was to address some unfinished business. In my mind, I had finally gotten the swing of passive breathing but, not in time before the class ended. Two core technical objectives for this adventure were air and depth management.

A few things had remained like rehashing the plan verbally, the commute, and the physical walkthrough. The overall plan had consisted of the following:

  1. Pre-dive check (BWARF)
  2. Fill BCD.
  3. Take steps slowly into the water.
  4. Descend to 40 ft.
  5. For 30 minutes, a lap around the spring.
  6. If @ 30 minutes, enough air remains (i.e.1500 PSI), move up to 30 feet with a spiral ascent.
  7. Otherwise @ 1000 PSI, head to 15 feet for 3 minutes for a safety stop then surface.
  8. Climb out of the water with enough spacing.

Tomorrow, I had planned on getting up around 5 am in anticipation for a departure of 6am from Orlando, Florida. If you had read this story during or after the automated posting, I had gone to sleep long ago. Might be out of rotation tomorrow for an updated posting but, like Ellen Ripley had echoed,” With a little luck, the network will pick me up.”

Read More:
Devil’s Den Scuba Resort (www.devilsden.com)

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Relax, it’s called a holiday

Driving two hours alone to my brother’s house in Jacksonville, Florida was great therapy for my mind. I had driven effortlessly listening to Daft Punk to Duran Duran along the way.

Closing out my day yesterday, my niece, Ashley had shared a few moments of her vacation to Key Largo during Veteran’s Day. She had eagerly shared pictures and video of manatees, tarpon feeding and a fire juggler. It was awesome to see her face light up with every story. The best moment of the day was getting an air tight hug from her upon arrival. That sensation had made two hours feel like 2 minutes.

Regardless of where, when and why you travel, I had thought,

“Get there in one piece!”,

“Get there, enjoy the moment!”

If the spirit of a visit had taken a back seat to a production of a meal, shopping, television, or everyone grasping their phone, why travel? I had hoped life bless you with a similar moment in time.

After all, relax, it’s called a holiday, savor it.

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Prepping for the apocalypse with Fish Mox?

I had started writing on WordPress for providing insight to my adventures on the road and in the home. With the discussion of Fish Mox, a fish antibiotic, some of my interests had converged into this one posting. One night, while watching an episode of Doomsday Preppers on cable, a fact had caught my attention. In preparing for the apocalypse, an individual had mentioned a survivalist tip of using fish antibiotics from a pet store. After finishing the show, I had jumped onto the internet to read about this possibility.

Before proceeding, I had wanted to outline a couple of obvious statements regarding this discussion.

  1. I am not a medical profession, just some guy behind a keyboard.
  2. Always consult a medical profession when ill!
  3. Currently, I have the privilege of having decent healthcare.
  4. I don’t believe everything on the internet.
  5. I don’t believe everything on television.

Continuing, my keen interest in fish antibiotics had come from traveling. I had really enjoyed being outdoors from hiking trails to fresh water springs to even a top of a mountain. Nothing I had dreaded worse than being on a road trip, or about to travel, then being stifled by some sinus infection or strep throat.

After getting over my first cold at the beginning of the year, I had come to the conclusion of ordering Fish Mox (i.e. Amoxicillin) from fishmoxfishflex.com. The deciding factors for the purchase were the online discussions relating to the quality grade of contents and pill labeling, despite the manufacturer stating for fish use only. For a few months, I had set this bottle in my kitchen corner. After a couple of trips, I had taken the sealed bottle with me. The opportunity for usage had finally arisen after a cold front this fall. The Sunday night following this change, I had developed congestion the next morning with an awful brown nasal discharge. At this point, I had decided to cycle on the Fish Mox. By day three, I had started to feel better. Some of my friends, during that same weather transition, had fared far worse. One had gone to the hospital receiving a prescription for Amoxicillin. The other, visiting a family doctor, had received the same prescription. Being funny and smart, I had enjoyed seeing my doctor; however, for the price and time, in this case $30 for a bottle of Fish Mox, I had figured keep a container around in case of emergencies.

After sharing some of the above information with a co-worker and my brother, the response was be wary of careless use of antibiotics. The consensus was save the Amoxicillin when appropriate, versus overuse. That opinion was echoed by many medical professionals from various media resources. With respect to bacteria tolerant of antibiotics, that time had arrived with this recent article, “Why the post-antibiotic world is the real-life version of the zombie apocalypse.” As species, we had opened the door for a “super-bug” pandemic with over prescription of medications and animal application of antibiotics. Should this apocalypse develop, consider a statement by Jim Morrison of the Doors, he had stated eloquently,”Did you have a good world when you died?”

Read More:
Why the post-antibiotic world is the real-life version of the zombie apocalypse (theweek.com)
Fish Antibiotics (preparednesspro.com)
Amoxicillin (drugs.com)

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Big Shoals State Park @ White Springs, Florida

One of the reasons for traveling to White Springs, Florida was the mention of white water rapids at Big Shoals State Park. After seeing the low level watermarks for the Suwannee River at Stephen Foster State Park, my expectations had diminished for this excursion, from canoeing to just hiking. Driving down County Road 135, I had not seen too many signs for navigating to the park. After taking a right onto Old Godwind Bridge Road, the pavement had turned to gravel. In the middle of the road had laid a dog and her four puppies. I had started to question out loud,” Is this the road to a state park?” The dogs had seemed unaffected by our encroaching vehicle. In a moment of clarity, I had switched off driving responsibilities with my friend to handle the dogs on the road. Snapping my fingers at the oldest dog, I had pointed to a nearby house. The dog, on cue, had responded wonderfully, moving her entourage out of the way. Another half mile down the road, the sign for Big Shoals had come into view.

After parking, we had walked down toward the canoe launch area. The Suwannee River’s appearance at this location had appeared more robust than the offering over at Stephen Foster. Walking back up toward the Pavilion, a small wooden fence had provided a great view of an overlook with 50 – 60 foot drop off to the river below. After this stop, we had proceeded out onto Big Shoals Hiking trail. Along the way, we had seen the remnants of an old bridge. Standing amongst the trees, the huge pillars had remained a testament to the history of the area. A mile in, we had heard the rumble of water. In excitement, we had both started jogging to another overlook with a similar drop-off like before. Down below, we had noticed the foaming rapids break upon the rocks. Wanting to get more pictures, we had scaled down the side of the limestone bluffs. At the water’s edge, we had both taken the opportunity for some pictures and video. The rapid were relatively nice but, nowhere near their optimal peak for canoeing. According to Florida State Parks website, to earn the class III classification for Big Shoals rapids, the water level had required being between 59 – 61 feet.

Scaling back up the estimated 80 foot bluffs, we had decided to double back on the hiking trail to the Pavilion. Near the Pavilion’s picnic area, another structure had caught my attention. The sign had read, “Bat Exhibit.” In the Florida Keys, I had seen another tower but, with a different architecture. Even though I was unable to see the bats, their sound echoed outside of the structure. The take away, bugs, specifically mosquitoes, were almost non-existent in the immediate area. Or maybe we were just lucky. In the end, Big Shoals State Park had offered a dynamic environment for canoeing, hiking and camping. If you had wanted to hit the rapids, suggest calling ahead for a water level report.

Big Shoals State Park
Address: 11330 S.E. County Road 135, White Springs, Florida 32096
Phone: (386) 397-4331

Read more:
Big Shoals State Park (Florida State Parks)
Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park @ White Springs, Florida (GarzaFX)

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Juniper Creek Canoe Run in the Ocala National Forest @ Marion, Florida

Closing out a day on a road trip for Veteran’s Day, I was curious about a sign for Juniper Creek Canoe Run. On the way back from Salt Springs on SR 19, I had looked for an excuse to pull over for the restroom. The brown signage on the left side of the road for the creek was that excuse. What was the connecton to Juniper Springs Recreation area? I had remembered Juniper Run at the recreation area. From that visit, the Run was unimpressive for a possible canoe excursion. That portion of the waterway within Juniper Springs Recreation area had become shallow and unmanageable. This canoe launch area had shown a much wider and deeper view of the creek, worthy of a second look. The view was postcard perfect with glistening water, powder blue skies and the ever present chirping of birds. From reading around the web, Juniper Creek Canoe Run had provided trips of a few hours plus, a possibility of shuttle ride back to the launching area. With the colder weather heading for Central Florida, I had pondered the possibility of canoeing through this portion of the Ocala National Forest again.

Located at Latitude :  29.183745   Longitude : -81.688533, just off Florida State Road 19.

Read More:
Juniper Run (US Forest Service)
Juniper Springs, Ocala National Forest, FL  (GarzaFX)
Salt Springs Recreation Area in the Ocala National Forest @ Salt Springs, Florida (GarzaFX)

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What’s inside me? A water world of swimming and scuba lessons

Returning today from a scuba lesson from Florida’s Alexander Springs in Ocala National Forest, I had pondered a question by a fellow classmate, ”Why challenge yourself with learning both things so close to together?” I had responded, “To expand possibilities.” Inside my mind, I had thought different motivations exist. With my 42nd birthday this December, how much time was left for my sight, muscles, joints, heart, or brain to carry out the maximum potential of certain experiences? No one knows when life had played your last card. Maybe, it was the competitive nature of keeping up with a friend younger than myself. Maybe, it was just fun or another avenue for cardio. For the most part, ego had provided the motivation for a journey back into water.

With swimming, I had never learned really how to swim confidently without fins, mask or snorkel as a child in the Bahamas. This bad precedent, a decision of my own, I had never revisited until this year. As a Navy brat, I had lived most of my life within an hour or less from the ocean. After returning stateside from Andros Island, Bahamas to the murky delta waters of the St. John’s River and Jacksonville Beaches, I had lost an inspiration to adventure out to the shore. The contrasting experience, in my opinion, was insurmountable. This October, with recent wear and tear on my ankles and knees from jogging, I had figured, “What a good time to switch horses for cardio!” The past two months, I had rotated to swims at my pool, the gym, fresh water springs, and the ocean. Steadily, I had improved but, elderly men and women left me in their wake leisurely. Part of the frustration of learning swimming was expending too much energy on keeping my head above water and engaging appendages full throttle. Reflecting on weight training from my 20s to now, this activity was counterintuitive. Swimming was not about power but, graceful breathing. This past Monday, I had finally gotten to 16 laps in the gym pool. This Friday, I had finally achieved an uninterrupted lap around the perimeter of Wekiva Springs swimming area. Both events had underscored the value of swimming as a good substitute for running and learning something new!

That second point had brought me to Scuba lessons. A friend had floated the suggestion of getting certified. I had figured why not add another dimension to adventures for the upcoming year; however, the past couple of weeks, I had stressed myself out with budgeting money, time, and health to work through tomorrow, my final day of a Padi Scuba class. During training, an instructor had rightfully told me, “Relax underwater.”  I had translated that into “don’t freak out man.” Easy to say, if failing was a familiar refrain. My instructor, Bob, had gladfully provided support to make this endeavor, fun and fulfilling. If you hadn’t understood his memory imprinting with certain repetitive tasks, perhaps you might be missing the point in the real world.

With final day of class tomorrow, I had aimed to “freak out” less, relax and the enjoy the submersion into the waters around Rainbow Springs State Park. Epiphanies had never come when you expect them but, with effort lies opportunity. In that potential, I had asked the question to try to find, “What’s inside me? What’s inside you?”

For Scuba lessons:

In Central Florida, I had recommended checking out Paul and Bob at Seminole Scuba. For more information, www.seminolescuba.com Address: 3869 Lake Emma Rd, Lake Mary, FL 32746 Phone:(407) 333-8856

For swimming:

Checkout,  Wekiva Springs State Park – Apopka, Florida, or if too cold, La Fitness’s heated saltwater pool in Winter Park, Florida

Read More:
Alexander Springs – Ocala National Forest – Florida (GarzaFX)
Rainbow Springs State Park -Dunnellon, Florida (GarzaFX)
Wekiva Springs State Park – Apopka, Florida (GarzaFX)

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Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park @ White Springs, Florida

Just before dawn on the third day of road trip, we had parked just outside Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park at White Springs, Florida. After driving on the road for about 4 hours, I had taken 15 minute nap, killing time before the facility opening. Down the hill from my vehicle had existed an interesting piece of history regarding the town. Up to this point in my travels, I had become comfortable with the clear, blue and relatively clean smelling waters of all the other springs in Florida; however, down the hill had existed the brown waters of the Suwannee river. The river’s hue had come from plant decay (i.e. tannins), coloring the waters a dark coffee color. Just past the slope, I had walked across a small wooden bridge going towards the remnants of an old style bathhouse. Below, I had seen the babbling of a tiny boil. Further down, I had walked along the side of the concrete bathhouse. Approaching the rumble of water gushing into the river, I had thought maybe a water treatment facility. With the overwhelming smell of sulfur, I had dry heaved 4 or 5 times. Reading signage at the front of the structure, this location had served as a popular destination from various native Indian tribes and then some, for the sulfur springs. Locals had built the concrete enclosure back in 1903, isolating the springs from flooding with a series of locks.

After making my way back up the hill, the state park had opened. I was excited with the potential of a canoeing. Never a good sign, when the park ranger had graciously redirected your attention to hiking. Nevertheless, after scoping out the water level, my friend and I had embarked onto portion of the backwoods. The park had seemed extremely tranquil, less the firing of a rifle and bells ringing. Walking along the Suwannee River, I had caught a glimpse of a deer and a pair of snakes. Despite missing out on the canoeing from low water levels, I was satisfied with the active move up and down the local topography.

The park had publicized itself as “home of the world’s largest set of tubular bells.” Heading back from the trail, I had hoped to see this hallmark of the Stephen Foster, a 10 am performance of tubular bell music. With few hours on the trail, we had missed out on this event. Instead, we had visited the building housing the bells. On the ground floor were exhibits regarding the building and Stephen Foster. Some items were fascinating, a small scale replica of the housing for the bells, other musical artifacts and a golden figure of Stephen Foster. One specific exhibit had bordered on questionable taste. Half of the encased exhibit had shown musicians playing on a porch, the other half echoing an offensive stereotype. Some historical curator had chosen to share this with the public? What had you thought?

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Aside from being known for the “sulfur” springs, the town of White Springs had sponsored an annual 4 day Florida Folk Festival. This town was also known for Big Shoals State Park with the only class 3 rapids in Florida. After a quick vehicle inspection and a food check, we had headed to that stop next.

Read More:

Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park (Florida State Parks)
Suwannee River (Wikipedia)
White “Sulfur” Springs (Wikipedia)

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dying @ your desk

Nicolas Tesla had obsessed over numerology, specifically the number 3. This past week, life had thrown 3 challenges my way, a radiator leak, my cat not leaking (i.e. urinary blockage) and a reoccurrence of anemia. With Tesla’s obsession passing through my mind, my car headlights had illuminated 333 on a mailbox while driving at dawn to the gym. I had believed in coincidences before, on the verge of turning 42, maybe not. Recalling my father’s passing at age 65, I had surmised doing good health wise with my birthday around the corner; however, the anemia had really caught me off-guard. All I can say, I hope you never had known the sensation of blood pumping into the capillaries of your fingers, straining to maintain adequate oxygen flow. Luckily, leveraging most of my tricks in my health playbook, I had avoided missing the first part of scuba class this past weekend. An appearance in class of being intellectually daft, I had concluded unflattering but, small penance for staying on task.

Last night, I had reflected that staying at my desk last week, unwise. Yet somehow, I had rationalized subconsciously, nothing more romantic and honorable than dying at your post. Perhaps, Star Trek and my dad’s service in the military had communicated that idea to me in one medium or another. So today, I had read some intriguing job openings at work. Interested yet, in light of recent events, I had quickly dispensed with those ideas, in lieu of sticking to a plan towards personal endeavors.

The reality, if reading this and a US citizen, more than likely, you had slim chance of retiring by age 65, more like 80. With an inevitable budget crisis, corporate welfare (i.e. oil subsidies, etc.), maybe a war for good measure, I had deduced an inevitable hard correction for the Dow Jones.  All the above had reinforced avoiding staying at work.  So, I had requested for some last minute time off. In earnest, I had wanted to catch up on lost time for some Padi Scuba studying. I had chosen to embody the tattoo on my right arm, a star with the letter M inside. It had served as reminder putting myself, yourself first. Nothing in this life had offered the ability to undo regret. Again, recalling my father, I had wanted to leave you with that idea and a country tune from Tim McGraw, “Live Like You Were Dying.”

Read More:
Find Your Inner Tortoise  (AARP.org)
Nicolas Tesla (Wikipedia)

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Wes Skiles Peacock Springs @ Live Oak, Florida

Writing this post, I had thought being a turtle, might be the ideal existence. They had seemed to populate all the cool watering holes in Florida with the least amount of people. The latest fresh water spring that had met this description, Wes Skiles Peacock Springs in Live Oak, Florida. From a technical standpoint, Peacock Springs had offered approximately 33,000 feet of underwater caverns for those with the proper scuba certification. With respect to flow, it was classified as a magnitude 2 spring. This state park had run about 15 minutes away from Troy Springs State Park  and 45 minutes from Ichetucknee Springs State Park.

From the entrance, the single lane pavement had quickly given way to a dirt road. I hadn’t seen how any two cars could manage heading in opposite directions. So, I had strongly recommended driving slowly, just not turtle slow 🙂 Obstructing the sun and clouds above, tree over hang had predominated the path forward. In reflection, it had achieved a calming, zen like quality with all the greenery.

After pulling into the back parking lot, I had walked down to take some pictures and video. My friend had taken a few moments to go swimming, seeing bit of algae and a turtle. Ironically, we had bumped into a two other park visitors from earlier in the day. They had also visited Big Shoals State Park in White Springs and Troy Springs in Branford. Both had seemed to be performing a similar scouting trip with swimming and a GoPro. Unfortunately, I had left one of my Sketcher’s Go-Run running shoes and $10 swimming goggles at the last stop, Troy Springs. Hating the idea of wasting money, even worse going shopping, I had cut this visit short. Maybe someday, I had hoped to return for an extended stay.

Read More:
Wes Skiles Peacock Springs (Florida State Parks)
Ichetucknee Springs State Park @ Fort White, Florida (GarzaFX)
Troy Springs State Park @ Branford, Florida (GarzaFX)

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Review: Big, Loud & Live 10, Drum Corps International, a Fathom Event

Review: For those with a musical appreciation for marching bands!

Summary: On Thursday, August 8th, 2013, Fathom Events had produced a live broadcast of DCI’s “Big Loud Live 10” at over 600 plus movie theaters. A friend and I had purchased a pair of tickets for the showing at the AMC Theater at Altamonte Springs, Florida. This live event for Drum Corps International had encompassed the semi-finals performances of the top 15 bands at Lucas Oil stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana. For those unfamiliar with D.C.I., this organization had selected members from musical competition with participants under the ages of 21. The purpose of  Drum Corps International was offering a positive, life altering experience through the medium of “the art of marching bands.” With friends previously in Florida State’s Marching Chiefs and high school band, I was intrigued by this alternative event at AMC.

Starting at around 6:30 PM, this auditory spectacle had started an ongoing run of performances. Each group had followed one right after the other. Each band had provided a higher degree of technique and execution. There were two classes of acts, the fair and the phenomenal. Despite the marathon run-time of 5 hours plus, it had provided a different angle on this genre of music outside of college football. For anyone with an affinity for marching bands, I had suggested looking into the 11th entry for this competition.

With respect to Fathom’s one shot broadcasts, they had now become part of the alternative programming from AMC Theaters. The next Fathom Event drawing my attention was the 50th Anniversary episode of Dr. Who’s,”Day of the Doctor in 3D,”  showing November 25th. For more information regarding counter programming choices to Hollywood fare, go to Fathom’s website: www.fathomevents.com

Read More:
Drum Corps International (Wikipedia)
Drum Corps International (DCI)
Fathom Event, Big Loud and Live 10 (Fathom Events)

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Refreshed UPCOMING page @ GarzaFX

Under the forthcoming tab, here is slate of new posts down the line:

  1. dying @ your desk
  2. Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park @ White Springs, Florida
  3. Prepping for the apocalypse with fish food?
  4. Big Shoals State Park @ White Springs, Florida
  5. Juniper Creek Canoe Run in the Ocala National Forest @ Marion, Florida
  6. Top 10 films
  7. Wes Skiles Peacock Springs @ Live Oak, Florida

Here is a sample of some of those accompanying images:

 

 

 

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Salt Springs Recreation Area in the Ocala National Forest @ Salt Springs, Florida

Going to Salt Springs Recreation Area in Ocala National Forest, the adventure had begun with a friend’s email for ideas on travel for Veteran’s Day. After agreeing to a sketch of locations the night before, I had fired up my car’s ignition heading out to locations familiar and unknown. Of the many springs in Central Florida, I had skirted with perimeter of this area before with the Salt Springs Observation Trail; however, I had yet to encounter one of the most photogenic spring heads in the state. After visiting Wildcat Lake Park, we had headed up US 40. After turning onto Florida Highway 19, about a mile up the road, an adult brown bear and her two cubs had decided to cross the road from the right. We had slowed down in attempting to capture photographic evidence of this passing encounter. In retrospect, probably better the bears had all darted back into the woods of Ocala National Forest. With the enticing smell of peanut butter from my center console plus cubs, wild bears had provided the potential for unpredictable behavior. After reaching the town of Salt Springs, I had noticed the signage for Salt Springs Observation Trail. On that trail, I had seen numerous trees with the bark ripped from their sides. The memories of this unkempt trail had reinforced my earlier thoughts on the bear encounter. These magnificent creatures, though cute, had demanded respect with distance, less encounter misfortune.

On the north side of the town, the entrance for Salt Springs Recreation Area had appeared on the right. Heading into the park, we had wondered if any Federal workers might be around because of the free admission on Veteran’s day. At the gate, a park ranger had greeted us reiterating policy of no pets and no alcohol handing us a parking permit. Driving forward, we both had wondered if they might know, ”How salty were the springs waters?” At the end of Salt Springs Observation Trail, the odor of brackish waters were quite overwhelming coming off the downstream waterway.

After parking, we had scouted the enclosed swimming area with multiple boils. The first color that had popped out looking into the springs heads, a golden yellow tint of some of the rocks. Thereafter, something unexpected had transpired. Flying fish had shot into the air, making quite a ruckus with splashing sounds. Ironically, while trying to document this activity, the fish had stopped their activity, almost on cue. Following this inactivity, they had jumped out of the waters, always seeming to avoid our two cameras. Finally, after some patience, I had caught at least two glimpses on my iPhone.

After switching gears, we had entered the waters of Salt Springs. My buddy had decided to try on his new fins, snorkel, booties and mask. I had opted for picking up more swim time with my goggles. In the waters, the flying fish had appeared to be large mullet with no predator in pursuit. They moved around the underwater vegetation and spring openings with ease. Swimming to the multiple boils, each had a distinct depth, shape and current. The shallow yellow tinted rocks had provided quick and easy access to each boil, even for a novice swimmer. For a holiday, the park had remained fairly devoid of any foot traffic, less an elderly couple. After moving through the perimeter of the enclosed swimming area, we had opted to leave early, making time for our final destination of Silver Glen Springs. At the end of our excursion, we had answered the question regarding the briny nature of the spring head. The waters that day, despite the name, had provided a faint salty aftertaste.

If you hadn’t visited this tranquil Florida backdrop, get out there!

Salt Springs Recreation Area
Address: 13851 Florida 19,
Salt Springs, FL 32134
Phone:(352) 685-2048

Read more:

Salt Springs (USDA Forest Service)
Salt Springs Observation Trail in Ocala National Forest @ Salt Springs, Florida (GarzaFX)
Silver Glen Springs, Ocala National Forest, FL (GarzaFX)

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Review: 30 days out with iPhone 5s with iMovie for iOS 7

Rating: Starting at $200 on contract with AT&T and other vendors, worth the investment for any novice video editor.

Summary: Having a new iPhone 5s, base model of 16 gb, I had wondered what might be my focal point 30 days out. Let’s start with features I had not expected from the phone. First, I had wanted the gold color but, let’s be real at 3 am in the morning, on day of ordering online, silver works just fine. The gold color, while alluring, had offered no enhancement in taking calls, pictures and video. Having spent a considerable time between phone upgrades, I had fancied the open functionality of Android sharing files, customization, and Google integration; however, I hadn’t expected any changes to Apple’s closed mindset. Also, a larger screen, while appealing, hadn’t provided as a deal breaker after coming from an iPhone 3GS. As far as fingerprint sensor, being the first iteration, I had lowered expectations but, amazingly the sensor remains functional for someone with an active lifestyle. For any Droid fanboys, it had offered a convenience, not a panacea in security. The sensor had served only as means to slow someone down. As always with security, physical possession, like in other security scenarios, had provided a means for unraveling any technical protective measures regardless of platform. So that brings me to other impressions for voice calls, audio, microphone, screen and speed, all had improved. The LTE performance on AT&T’s network had quietly impressed my ears while streaming Joe Satriani.

At the heart of the matter, the iPhone 5s had embedded a dual core 64-bit A7 processor though, that’s not the measure of the value for me. The measuring stick had come in the form of handling 1080p video. My iPhone 5s had exported in 30 seconds a 5 minute project versus, expected hours on a used MacBook. So what had squeezed that performance out? Well, Apple had written iOS 7 and iMovie for 64 bit optimization plus, other programming tweaks. The knife’s sharp blade was the supporting GPU, the PowerVR Series 6 chip. For example, within 30 minutes, I had dragged and dropped 90 various clips for the Florida Caverns to begin. Then, I had mixed down over 24 minutes of this video of the Florida Caverns in hours. Exporting the final cut, that had taken the aforementioned 30 seconds for a 5 minute project. During that process, I had acclimated myself to the newer, simpler interface for iMovie. If I had wanted to reimport or use different transitions, just quick double tap on some app icons. Moving different clips around, even with 9o imports, had remained a snap. Without those aggregate software and hardware elements, I had anticipated painful editing experience of recent raw video for weeks. Instead, days had become hours, hours into seconds.

So the above had brought me back to a question, “Does this phone make sense for you?” If you had desired a means to quickly mix down 1080p HD video, perhaps. Since purchasing this device, a few co-workers and friends had purchased this phone and complimentary hardware via the iPad Air. So far, none to my knowledge, had leveraged this video editing potential of this solution. From my perspective, that time savings and ease of use, had made all the difference to posting on WordPress. Without it, I had shuttered the thought for producing content like slow moving molasses.

Read More:

Apple iPhone 5s performance review: CPU and GPU speed compared to top Android phones (benchmarks)(phonearena.com)

Florida State Caverns Park @ Marianna, Florida: Part 1 (GarzaFX)

Florida State Caverns Park @ Marianna, Florida: Part 2 (GarzaFX)

Does Apple just suck? Or does Android suck less? (GarzaFX)

iphonesilver

A masquerade of dolphins, horseshoe crabs and manatees @ Port Canaveral, Florida

“mag·ic ˈmajik”
noun
“the power of apparently influencing the course of events by using mysterious or supernatural forces.” – Oxford Dictionary

Returning with a friend to Merritt Island last weekend, the entertainment for the day had entailed a $40 Groupon for “Swimming with Dolphins.” The weather for the day was overcast with a cool breeze. The water conditions on the inside of Port Canaveral had provided murky brown waters, reducing visibility beyond a few feet. Advancing to our target in the back of boat, the salty ocean spray had splashed onto my torso with a slight chill. Upon arriving at a small atoll, Carlos, our guide, had issued some instructions for traversing the sandbar surrounding the tiny island. He also had reminded us to shuffle our feet on the sandbar for avoiding any negative encounter with a stingray. The final instruction was rotating your view 360 degrees to search for signs of dolphins.

After walking out knee deep for 20 feet, we had capitulated into fully immersing our bodies into the ocean. Ironically, this action had relieved the chilly sensation of wadding in the water. Moving around the sandbar in our swimming goggles, we had seen little to titillate the eye. Coming around the entire atoll, the most excitement I had experienced, treading water unexpectedly. After a quick sprint to the sandbar, I had risen out of the briny water to get some Gatorade. After washing away the salt water after taste of the sea, I had headed to highest point on the atoll. Now, this heap of sand’s highest point had measured maybe 3 – 4 feet. Taking a 360 view from this vantage point, I had searched for signs of swimming dolphins.

For a few minutes, I had rotated my body and view 360 degrees. All I had seen, my buddy swimming about 50 feet out and our guide stretching out at the campsite. At this point, I had thought having the sun break through the clouds might be as good as it gets; however, pivoting back to watching my friend tread water, a dolphin had surfaced just behind him. Signally a moment too late, the mammal had gone back under the surf. Looking to the other side of the island, the dolphin had resurfaced then disappearing again. After giving up scouting, I had moved back into the water waving down my friend. Catching my peripheral vision, something had moved into the shallow waters around my feet. At first, I had thought a stingray but, no flapping motion and silt cloud. Looking more keenly, what had appeared a silhouette of a living horseshoe crab. In fact, it had been two of them. A smaller one, perhaps a male or juvenile, had attached to top back of the larger specimen. Regardless, I had motioned my buddy to come ashore for taking GoPro video. I had never witnessed a living horseshoe crab before. In school, I had only seen depictions in books and dead skeletons in a marine biology field trips. Now, the next thing I had done falls out of protocol for dealing with wildlife. I have to state, never touch or disturb any living creature above or below the water or on land; however, in my excitement, I had made a decision to steer our horse crab pair back into shallow water with my bare hands. During this encounter, nothing had happened but, I still recall nature’s wrath at Scrub Brush Bird Trail @ Titusville, Florida. After sometime with the day’s guest star on camera, we had walked back to meet the guide, Carlos.

Coming ashore was another group of visitors on our ride out. During that transition, a family that had accompanied us on the tour began returning. In that family, the oldest woman had pointed out to a blue marker. At the blue marker, they had come across 5 dolphins in shallow water, just beneath a bridge going into Port Canaveral. Funny, I had asked our guide where they might be earlier. My buddy and I should had thought about what might command their attention so far offshore. Then again, spontaneous experiences, in nature, had never worked that way. These moments usually had just happened auto-magically. During the boarding process, a woman coming ashore had demanded photographic evidence of the “swimming dolphins” from Carlos. I had chimed in stating,”Like aliens, they exist!”

Taking my seat at the back of the approximately 20 foot boat, the vessel had engaged a course back to the marina. Not more than a minute out, a dolphin had surfaced moving back into the brown waters. With the boat bouncing up and down entering the estuary at the beginning of our trip, another or same dolphin had pulled in at the aft of the boat. A young child in our group had affixed her gaze looking for breaks in the surface. The dolphin had followed close for about 4 or 5 minutes. After reaching some riverside construction, it had taken a u-turn heading back out to the open water. Just after this moment, the captain had pointed out two manatees on the left in shallow river waters. The young child had excitedly inquired about the animals and getting into the water.  The captain had provided a reduction in speed for proper viewing and discussion.

At first, I had jaded appraisal of this adventure. Then, I had remembered the joyful looks on the child’s face and memories of my father steering a similar boat into different waters. Those thoughts had ended a day starting with me shouting out, “Nice tits” to alternating sexes en route to this excursion. Without alcohol, caffeine or sugar, just a buddy, now that was magic!

Dolphin Paradise Tours
4905 N Tropical Trail
Merritt Island, FL 32953
Email: DolphinParadiseTours@gmail.com
Phone: 321 848 2486
Website: www.gopaddleboardcocoabeach.com

Hours: Monday-Saturday
Departure hours: 10am, noon, 2pm and 4pm

Note: Sunday and Holiday’s Dolphin Paradise Tours are Closed.

Read More:
Swimming with Dolphins (ren3gade.wordpress.com)
Horseshoe Crab (Wikipedia)
Stand-Up PaddleBoarding – Manatee Cove Park @ Merritt Island, Florida (GarzaFX.com)
Scrub Brush Bird Trail @ Titusville, Florida (GarzaFX.com)

horseshoe crabs @ port Canaveral @ garzafx.com

horseshoe crabs, photo courtesy of renegade399

Wildcat Lake Park @ Ocala National Forest, Florida

Heading out on State Road 40, I had passed this park a few times going to various destinations (Silver Glen Springs, Alexander Springs and Juniper Springs) in the Ocala National Forest. Heading out to Salt Springs this past Veterans’ Day, I had finally taken a stop to check out Wildcat Lake Park. After parking, I had explored the boat launch area. There, I had an unobstructed view of the wide open body of water of Wildcat Lake from a wooden pier. In the distance, one fisherman, on his boat, had waited patiently for fish to bite. For being around 9 am in the morning, on a holiday, there was very little activity, less the one visitor. Wildcat Lake had embodied the serenity and peace of rural Florida.

After taking some photos and video off the pier, I had walked up past the on-premise restrooms to check out the swimming area. Moving to the waters’ edge, the swimming area had seemed shallow and fit only for small children. Though, I had wondered how wise that might be with an alligator sign up the hill. In these shallow waters, I had seen quite a few tiny fish darting around avoiding the camera’s gaze. With the uncooperative stars, I had decided to get back in my vehicle to complete an impromptu journey to another portion of Ocala National Forest.

If you had looked for a place to picnic or fish with a great open view, take a stop. It was a good pit stop for us before heading out to Salt Springs and Silver Glen Springs.

Park fee is $3. Hours: dusk to dawn. Wildcat Lake Park had lacked an address; however, is located up US 40. The physical location is Latitude :   29.1704370217539    Longitude : -81.6276197855908.

For reference, on Veteran’s day, most national parks had offered free admission (i.e. Wildcat, Salt Springs, Silver Glen, etc..)

Read More:
Wildcat Lake Park (US Forest Service)

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Repost: Magnesium x2

So the past month, I had my share of life’s ups and downs physically. Part of approaching age 42, was maintaining my varied body parts. This week had opened with a co-worker limping around valiantly from a bump knee. Recovering from my own “gimpy” adventures (i.e. knees, ankles, etc..) recently, I had suggested Epsom Salt aka Magnesium Sulfate.  The other ordeal was a reoccurrence of an ulcer. Thankfully, I had avoided any stomach ailments since my gallbladder surgery about 2 years ago; however, unsure of the source of the issue, I had fired up some iron pills to alleviate a bout of anemia and addressing certain color (black) and smell of the #2.

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The hat trick was the standby, 250 Mg Magnesium pill. After stirring up the acid in my stomach during the week, this had calmed my stomach avoiding purchase of over the counter pills or drinks. After taking one pill, the indigestion and bloating had subsided where I can now sit up, post, and read my scuba manual.

With those two experiences, I had thought it important to repost two different shout outs to my favorite element, magnesium! Be well my fellow humans, be well!

Read More:

1) The 12th Element, Magnesium  (GarzaFX) – This post talks of general and unexpected uses for Magnesium, can’t overemphasize the value there.

2) Healing Water: Part 1 (GarzaFX) – A piece regarding testing Epsom Salts, just remember the more you hurt, the longer to soak (i.e. 30 minutes or more)

As always, consult with a medical professional when making changes to your diet or any possible interactions with other medications!

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Florida State Caverns Park @ Marianna, Florida: Part 2

Before proceeding to take a tour of the Florida Caverns, I had the opportunity to explore the back end of the park. If only hitting the caverns, you had missed out on the camping areas, horse trails, hiking trails and clean restrooms at the back of the property. Coming round to the tail end of the acreage, the road had gone up on a slight hill. On the left shoulder, probably the nicest looking restrooms in the state park system. Below this change area and outdoor shower, a scenic view that had given way to waters on the edge of my vision. Walking down the greens had appeared the deep aquamarine colors of Blue Hole and Blue Hole run. Blue Hole, though not advertised off the state’s website, had provided a means for swimming. It had also offered a location for fishing bass and other assorted aquatic life.

After soaking up some sun and the view, we had departed to canoe launch area about 1/2 mile down the road. This portion of the park had appeared considerably different but, no less tranquil with the sound of running water. A row of rental canoes had laid securely across aluminum framing near the river. There was one key difference about the Chipola River launch area versus Blue Hole, a sign relating to Florida’s favorite reptile, alligators. Investigating the canoe launch area were signs relating to flood history of the area, plus references to President Andrew Jackson.

After taking some of pictures and video of the Chipola River, the time had come to return to the front of the park for the cavern tour. Of the five state parks in West Florida I had visited, Florida State Caverns Park definitely worthy of the time and gas.

Read More:

Florida State Caverns Park (Florida State Parks)

Florida State Caverns Park @ Marianna, Florida: Part 1 (GarzaFX)

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Florida State Caverns Park @ Marianna, Florida: Part 1

During this past Labor Day 2013, I had missed the last tour for Florida Caverns tour by 10 minutes, after some misdirection from T-Mobile. For reference, the last tour of the day had always started at 4:30 PM Central Time. To right that wrong, I had planned for another visit to the Florida panhandle to hit one of the crown jewels of Florida. Hitting these grounds a third time, I was glad to take more time to view the back of the premises including a river, change station and another sink. After killing time with those activities, the time had come to revisit this underground curiosity.

Back in the 90s, I had visited the Florida Caverns on a road trip back from New Orleans. That go around I don’t recall having to pay for the cave tour but, good for the park system for valuing this tour @ $8.00 per person, plus $5.00 per vehicle fee on the high end. After a quick introduction, the park ranger had taken us below fleshing out the history of subterranean opening. One chamber in particular, had served as backdrops for weddings. Another practical fact, the caverns were prone to flooding. Additionally, he had cautioned the patrons to avoiding touching any limestone. If you had done so, it would make the various limestone growths (stalagmites, stalactites) inert. The difference between stalactites and stalagmites, stalactites had grown from top of caverns, just remember the T for top, the later for the bottom.

For state filled with no great contrast in topography, the caverns had provided a visual feast. I had posted few images and video but, they hardly do justice! If you had enjoyed anything about geology or an avid naturist, this tour is a must!

Florida State Caverns Park
Address: 3345 Caverns Road, Marianna, Florida 32446
Phone: (850) 482-9598

Park Admission Cost:

$5.00 per vehicle. Limit 2-8 people per vehicle.
$4.00 Single Occupant Vehicle.
$2.00 Pedestrians, bicyclists, extra passengers, passengers in vehicle with holder of Annual Individual Entrance Pass

Youth or Adult Group Camping Fees:
(Per person) Youth  $1.00, Adult(s) or chaperone(s)  $5.00

Cave Tour Fees:
$8.00 per person, age 13 and older.
$5.00 per child, 3 to 12.
Free, 2 and younger.
$4.00 per person, organized groups of 25 or more with prepaid reservations.

IMPORTANT: NO CAVE TOURS on Tuesdays and Wednesdays!

Read More:

Florida State Caverns Park (Florida State Parks)

Stalagmite (Wikipedia)

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Music from Jerry Goldsmith’s original soundtrack for “Legend”, “Unicorns”

Falling Waters State Park @ Chipley, Florida

Heading back from west Florida, we had wanted to check this out after reading the guide to Florida State Parks and visiting the falls of Rainbow Springs Park. After taking a quick detour off 1-10 into the countryside, we had driven to the park entrance. At the gate, the park ranger had provided a cheerful welcome; however, she was not excited about the flow of the river feeding the falls. Proceeding to the park area, we made quick use of the restrooms before heading down the trail to the Falling Waters sink. Without question, this park was exceedingly clean and well groomed by the staff and respectful visitors. The other two parks that had fallen in that category, Troy Springs and Florida Caverns State Park. Proceeding down the walkway were examples of local greenery including some wax murtle and some purple flowers. After hitting the boardwalk to the sink, it had appeared down on right with the 70 foot fall below. Crestfallen with the view, we had packed up shop reminiscing about the photogenic but, smaller offerings at Rainbow Springs. The park had a hiking trail, small river and lake for other activities. With about 3 hours left of daylight, we had opted to head back through Tallahassee, Florida. Before leaving Chipley, we had taken a quick stop for photo op of cotton fields. They were quite impressive in passing,  despite a possible negative historical reference and current shout out to US trade in-balance. For a weekend getaway, this park was exceedingly beautiful with the rolling hills and pine trees, just call ahead for feedback on the falls.

Falling Waters State Park is located at:

1130 State Park Road, Chipley, Florida 32428
Phone: (850) 638-6130

Read More:

Falling Waters State Park (Florida State Parks)

Rainbow Springs State Park -Dunnellon, Florida (GarzaFX)

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Music from Steve Howe, “Valley of Rocks”